Paul Nolan today raised the possibility that his Champion Hurdle hope Accordion Etoile could line-up in the Tote Gold Trophy if the ground is heavy at Leopardstown on Sunday week.
The County Wexford-based handler is hoping to run the six-year-old in the AIG Champion Hurdle at the Dublin track but does not want to bottom him on desperate ground.
However, while the Newbury race on February 12 is an option, Nolan would rather keep him closer to home and also hopes to have leading Arkle Trophy hope Cloone River start in the Irish equivalent on the same card.
“They are both still going to Leopardstown unless there is an absolute deluge and the ground comes up very testing, as I would prefer to stay at home,” said Nolan.
“Cloone River will run as long as all goes well between now and the race, but there is a possibility we might send Accordion Etoile for the Tote Gold Trophy if Rooster Booster stays in, and the ground is desperate here.
“However, if the ground is half decent at Leopardstown, I will go there – I would prefer not to have to travel before Cheltenham.
“It has been terrible weather here the past few days and the ground would be heavy at the moment, but it has been a massive drying day today and Leopardstown drains very well.”
“Cloone River will run regardless, as there is very little else for him and I need to get some experience into him before Cheltenham. Both horses will go straight there after Leopardstown and have a clean bill of health at the moment.
“They schooled well the other day and are looking very good in their skin.”
Accordion Etoile shot to prominence for the Champion Hurdle when strolling away with the Greatwood Hurdle at Prestbury Park in November and is a general 8-1 chance for the March 16 contest, behind fellow Irish raiders Harchibald, Back In Front, Macs Joy and Hardy Eustace.
“The Champion Hurdle is far from a sub-standard contest and you could give the first seven in the betting a massive chance,” added Nolan. “The form has not been let down by any horse yet – it speaks well for an interesting contest.
“The horse that I have most respect for, though, is Back In Front. He looks to still be the value bet as he loves the Cheltenham hill and is a good battler.”